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Presidential Art Critic


Karl Zinsmeister

President Bush's new chief domestic policy adviser, Karl Zinsmeister, writes about art:

When Art Becomes Inhuman
Karl Zinsmeister

"There are post-modernist works featured in this article that some may find disturbing. Our sole intention in including these works has been to illustrate the aesthetic and moral 'values' championed by the contemporary art establishment. We do not endorse these self-proclaimed 'artists'."

nettime's navel gazing


Every once in a while the mailing list "nettime" takes a look at itself and many don't like what they see. This time the cause was a meeting of list members in Montreal called the Nettime North America Gathering.

The thread starts here:
report_on_NNA tobias c. van Veen

Gilles Barbier - Carré d'Art -Museé d'Art Contemporain


Vieille Femme aux Tatouages 2002

Gilles Barbier
Carré d'Art -Museé d'Art Contemporain
Place de la Maison Carrée in Nîmes, France
May 31st to September 17th, 2006

By Joseph Nechvatal

Gilles Barbier’s remarkably ambitious exhibition at the Carré d'Art Museé d'Art Contemporain in Nîmes (Southern France) plays pithily with many current intellectual strands which interest me: net culture, artificial intelligence, image profusion, micro-organisms and science fiction (among others). But what struck me as most exact to its weird visual propositions was its deep reflection (one might even say brooding) on the theme of ignobility, and this grubbily shifted something in my head.

Whitney Biennial 06: An Afterword


Whitney Biennial 06: An Afterword

Judith Rodenbeck and Trebor Scholz

The articles have been written and the doors of the Whitney Biennial are now closed.

It is an historical truism in cultural production that after World War II, but especially after the freedom struggles of the late 1950s and 1960s, to think of art along traditionalist lines as devoted to beauty (or even only to itself) became suspect. More pressing were questions of authority and interest, of exclusion and inclusion, and critical art practices took on such post-Duchampian topics as "Who conditions the context in which artworks are situated and by which they are certified?" Aesthetics for many became a productive problematic for art rather than a field delimited by notions of "the beautiful" as its proper expression; no longer attached to the ineffables of the beautiful or the sublime, a new aesthetics was, rather, addressed to the play of cognition and sociality. And this has been the case in advanced practices of the last 50 years.



Taxonomy is everywhere.

This past week, I did two Art Dirt Redux interviews,that indicate a new discourse of sorts for the digital art arena. One was with Marc Garret of and the other with [PAM]

Garret talks about node London, a media arts festival that was de-centralized and non-hierarchical and [PAM] talks about video art folksonomy. Things are getting interesting when you look at the as well.

Matthew's Blarney


Saturday before Easter was unseasonably warm and sultry. The art troops were out in Chelsea en masse, and in their shirtsleeves. I returned to Gladstone to seek closure in my discussion of Barney. I made a final visit to The Occidental Guest.

No Occident, No Restraint


When Matthew Barney’s work first came to prominence in the early 1990s, it brought to mind the Warren Zevon song, Excitable Boy.

Well, he went down to dinner in his Sunday best
Excitable boy, they all said
And he rubbed the pot roast all over his chest
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

He took in the four a.m. show at the Clark
Excitable boy, they all said
And he bit the usherette's leg in the dark
Excitable boy, they all said
Well, he's just an excitable boy

I didn’t attend the recent press or invitational screenings for Barney’s new film, Drawing Restraint 9. But both word of mouth and published reports made me feel as if I had seen it – all 135 minutes of it -- even if most reviewers seemed to wish that they hadn’t. Having endured the entire 15 hours of his Cremaster cycle, I could certainly feel their pain. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, the flayed blubber of DR9 not far from the descending testicle of Cremaster. Barney’s aesthetic legacy from the earlier film seems to have survived remarkably intact. There is his narcissism, his addlepated attempts at creating a personal mythology, his fetishistic transgressions, his pretentious (and expensive) tropes of fashion, his overreaching symbolism, his staging of inane rituals, his plodding sense of narrative, his artless editing (like boxcars crashing together on rusty tracks) and insipid cinematography. Taken together, they constitute a singular cinematic achievement.

Rachel Whiteread at Luhring Augustine


In her contract with negative space - making it the sine qua non of her oeuvre - Rachel Whiteread generally creates sculptures that beg the interaction of humanity while remaining forbidding, unpopulated, aloof. A ceremony, and therefore a narrative, is implied by her austere castings of the volumes beneath a ceiling, around a stairwell, against a bookshelf, inside a water tank. But this narrative is conspicuously denied. We are set adrift, frustrated in our attempt to give significance to her plinths, altars, sarcophagi. We are thrown back upon an academic contemplation of their formal qualities, all the while yearning to assign them some specific context of human activity, some aspect of the anecdotal, vernacular, religious. But her sculptures remain obdurately obscure to our interpretation. They are, in a word, sphinxlike.

Although Whiteread's work is self consciously monumental, her embrace of the void renders moot any discussion of progress or history, issues which often accompany the civic monument, and which, in fact, are the impetus behind the public commissioning of most monuments.

Good Bye Reality! How Media Art Died But Nobody Noticed


Subjective notes about Transmediale 2006

by Armin Medosch on Tue, 2006-02-07

The festival Transmediale is one of the oldest and biggest of its  
kind in Europe. Held annually since 1988, it started out as a video  
festival. In the early days the VideoFest, as it was called then,  
featured works which did not fit into the programme of the Berlin  
Film Festival - the star studded - drum role, fanfare - Berlinale. In  
the early 1990s the festival started presenting interactive works on  
CD ROM - I think this was called multi-media at the time. With  
changing technologies - adopting net art and generative and software  
art in the late 1990s - the festival kept true to its beginnings by  
maintaining the notion of critically engaging with new technologies  
and presenting a broad spectrum of alternative currents in art,  
technology and related theoretical production.

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